Sentries keep vigil outside the tomb of former President Saparmurat Niyazov ("Turkmebashi" -- leader of all Turkmen -- often described using the medieval epithet, "the Great"). Niyazov, who died suddenly in 2006 after ruling Turkmenistan since independence, still haunts the country with golden statues and eponymous everything, but his personality cult is being dismantled in favor of his dentist and successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
The tomb is on the site of Niyazov's home village outside Ashgabat, where an earthquake in 1948 killed his mother and siblings. They are now buried -- under a colossal amount of marble -- beside him.
David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.
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